Potential new drug may bring hope for Alzheimer's sufferers

Posted Jul 2, 2014 by Greta McClain
Experiments conducted by researchers at Sidney Strickland’s Laboratory of Neurobiology and Genetics at Rockefeller University have discovered a compound which may stop the progression of Alzheimer’s.
A woman suffering from Alzheimer s disease
A woman suffering from Alzheimer's disease
Philippe Huguen, AFP/File
Although the cause of Alzheimer's Disease is not fully understood, one abnormality known as plaque in brain tissue is all too common. According to an article by the Mayo Clinic, plaques are lumps of beta-amyloid proteins, also known as amyloid-β, that appear to damage and even destroy brain cells.
For years, researchers have tried to develop various drugs that target amyloid-β. In most every case, those drugs have either caused serious side effects or failed to stop the progression of the plaque. However, the researches at Strickland's lab have learned that amyloid-β can interact with a clotting agent called fibrinogen, causing hard to break blood clots that blocks blood flow, induces inflammation and choke off neurons. That knowledge has led to the discovery of a compound known as RU-505.
Research associate Hyung Jin Ahn looked at nearly 94,000 compounds and found that RU-505 not only interfered with amyloid-β ability to interact with fibrinogen, it also binds to amyloid-β, preventing abnormal blood clots while not interfering with normal clotting.
RU-505 was tested on mice who exhibited symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Those tests showed the mice had improved blood flow and less chronic inflammation in the brain. The mice also performed much better in standard maze testing. Ahn told Neuroscinece News:
“We found evidence of improvement both at the cellular and the behavioral levels.”
In a press release issued by Rockefeller university, Strickland went on to say:
“While the behavior and the brains of the Alzheimer’s mice did not fully recover, the three-month treatment with RU-505 prevents much of the decline associated with the disease.”
Researchers are now working to refine the RU-505 compound so that it can be used in future drug development.